AOL is repositioning or perhaps enhancing Bebo as a kind of dashboard for the internet using the concept of a “social inbox.” The Wall Street Journal has coverage of what’s at stake for AOL and the challenges facing social media ad revenues. The social inbox idea is about aggregation of content and services (e.g., email) from a range of third parties and partners in one place.
The press release describes the strategy:
The new aggregation and update features delivered by Bebo go a long way toward solving the main problem facing consumers online, namely, a cluttered social networking experience with friends’ activity online scattered across the Web, living on multiple sites that require too much time and effort to access. By letting users pool key updates and information from multiple sites in one place, Bebo builds on the foundations of social networking to become the first major network to give consumers a one-stop destination from which to experience life online.
The dashboard, “one stop shop” strategy is sound and being used in a number places across the internet (MyYahoo, iGoogle, Windows Live, etc). It also makes sense for Bebo given the site’s need to differentiate from larger competitors MySpace and Facebook. However the question is: will users start to think of and use the site in this way? (Social networking +.) That’s the issue.
If Bebo does succeed in growing with this new approach it will obviously benefit Platform A ad revenues but it may also benefit AOL Search, which has displaced Yahoo (the former Bebo partner) at the top of the page: